Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Patriot Act Has Nothing to do With Fighting Terrorism, and Everything to do With Stealing Elections

Investigative journalist Greg Palast on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman to discuss the follow-up to his best-selling book “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy”:
Telecom giant Verizon has been sued for giving the National Security Agency the phone records of millions of Americans. The lawsuit was filed on Saturday just days after USA Today reported Verizon, Bell South and AT&T handed over millions of phone call records to help the government build the world’s largest database.

While the NSA spy story continues to make headline news, BBC Investigative reporter Greg Palast says that the corporate media is missing the real story.
He writes "The snooping into your phone bill is just the snout of the pig of a strange, lucrative link-up between the Administration’s Homeland Security spy network and private companies operating beyond the reach of the laws meant to protect us from our government. You can call it the privatization of the FBI -- though it is better described as the creation of a private KGB.

"Worried about Dick Cheney listening in Sunday on your call to Mom? That ain’t nothing. You should be more concerned that they are linking this info to your medical records, your bill purchases and your entire personal profile including, not incidentally, your voting registration."

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Greg Palast. He has written a new book. It is called Armed Madhouse, short title, extremely long subtitle, Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal ‘08, No Child’s Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War. Why “Armed Madhouse"?

GREG PALAST: That’s back to the Allen Ginsberg's Howl, my old teacher. He said, “The soul should not die ungodly in an armed madhouse.” It's like we have a circus of -- it’s like we have the asylum taken over by the inmates, and they're quite dangerous. And so, we have to get out of it. So, in a way, the idea is to kind of arm you with the information.

AMY GOODMAN: The scheme to steal ‘08?

GREG PALAST: Yeah. Well, for those who, you know, know my background, I came to the U.S. attention when I broke a story that before the 2000 election, Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris knocked off tens of thousands of black voters off the voter rolls of Florida, and this is what gave the election to George Bush in 2000. It was fixed by knocking off of these black voters. There’s a chapter in the new book --

AMY GOODMAN: You broke this on BBC.

GREG PALAST: Yeah, I broke this on BBC, and to get in the United States, we got Michael Moore to put on a chicken suit and report it here as a joke. And then, thank you very much, Amy, for bringing it across the water and breaking through the electronic Berlin Wall. By the way, all of these stories are stories developed out of BBC and Guardian that basically are blacked out, except for here on Democracy Now! That's very important, because these are the stories that they don't want you to have for good reason. And they don't want you to have it, because -- I then followed up with 2004. Now, it’s accepted 2000 pretty much was fixed. Well, there’s a chapter, “Kerry won.” 2004 was fixed. And the way it was done is that 3.6 million votes were cast and never counted in the United States. That's very important to know. This isn’t Greg Palast conspiracy nut stuff.

AMY GOODMAN: Say the number again.

GREG PALAST: 3.6 million ballots cast, never counted. And that's because they call these spoiled votes or rejected provisional ballots, 1.9 million so-called provisional ballots, and then, most of those don't get counted. And so, whose votes don't get counted? If it was random, it wouldn’t matter. In other words, if these were votes where the machine doesn't record it properly, hanging chads, extra marks on a paper ballot, you had the wrong address on your absentee ballot, etc.

Three million ballots. Whose ballots? If you're a black person, the chance your ballot will be technically invalidated is 900% higher than if you're a white voter. Hispanic voter, 500% higher than if you're a white voter. Native Americans, it’s like 2,000% higher than if you're a white voter. The overwhelming majority -- and I went to the state of New Mexico, which supposedly Bush won by 5,000 votes, 89% of the ballots were cast out of minority precincts that were thrown away. Kerry won New Mexico. You go into the dumpster, and it’s black votes, 155,000 black votes that were chucked away in Ohio. Kerry won those votes. He won Ohio.


GREG PALAST: And ‘08, so what's happening is there is no fix of the system. In other words, just like black folk get bad schools and bad hospitals, they get the bad voting machines, which are going to kill those votes. But they're not satisfied with just letting the ballots be thrown away. They're going to move it along. And one of the things I discovered is the Republican Party has something called “caging lists,” which came to our -- you know, just like you had Friday, the way the Yes Men capture material by using false websites, so through a false website we were able to capture Republican Party internal missives, through georgebush.org.

And so, what happened was is that they sent us a bunch of lists of literally tens of thousands of names of voters and addresses. We were wondering what the heck this was. It turns out these were almost all African American voters, who they were prepared to challenge in 2004, and they did, to say that these people shouldn't vote, because their addresses are suspect. And you'll see in the book that in the lists of thousands of black voters that they were challenging over their address were thousands of black soldiers who were sent to Iraq; go to Baghdad, and the Republican Party challenges your vote.

And that’s the beginning, and because there's been really no action taken, they're accelerating the system now. And the next thing that they’re going after is the Hispanic vote. So when we saw two million votes cast/not counted in 2000, nearly four million votes cast/not counted in 2004, you're going see that number massively increase in challenges to voters in 2008. And that's what's going back to this database story with the National Security Agency.

AMY GOODMAN: We have 30 seconds.

GREG PALAST: So, you have to say, “Why are they collecting this data?” The answer is 2008. It's ultimately all about the elections.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, this is part one. Greg Palast, I want to thank you for being with us. You'll be traveling around the country, and you can go to our website at democracynow.org. We will link to Greg's website, gregpalast.com. Greg Palast’s book is called Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal ‘08, No Child’s Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.

The Patriot Act was written before September 11, 2001.

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